A unique piece of every vehicle’s history is where it was sold. Sometimes finding the original sales point for a car requires research, other times it’s as simple as looking at the badge on the trunk.
The first car dealership in the United States was established in 1898 by Detroit resident William Metzger, and the sales model would soon dominate the automotive landscape and create constant sales competition between dealers. In the pre-internet era, advertising required great effort, and one of the easiest ways for many dealers to get their name in front of potential car owners was to brand each vehicle they sold.
Early badges were constructed of pot metal and chromed to have a more attractive appearance, and emphasis was placed on making a unique piece that stood out. Mounting these badges required drilling holes into the sheetmetal and attaching the badge with screws or rivets.
In an effort to make badges more cost effective, as well as easier to attach and less destructive to the vehicle, dealers soon transitioned to using adhesive to attach the badges. The artistic three-dimensional look became reserved for high-end badges, while lower-cost badges were simply flat logos bearing the dealer’s name.\
Fast forward to current times and many dealers have transitioned to license plate frames and vinyl decals that no longer cause damage to a vehicle. These are also easily removed by owners who don’t want to advertise for the dealer.
While today’s dealer badges might be considered disposable, the screwed-in/bolted-on badges from an earlier era are helpful in that they offer a starting point for discovering the history of a car.
We want to hear from you: Do you embrace the dealer badges on your vintage ride? What is the best dealer badge you have seen?